The closest I’ve been able to recreate my natural habitat of Colorado was a breathtaking late spring visit to the lakefront city of Annecy (pronounced: ahn-see) in the French Alps. The scenery is drop-dead gorgeous and travel brochure ready. It tops the mountainside towns of Colorado, say Vail or Aspen, because of its romantic canals, enchanting bridges, crystal clear lake, and its fondue savoyarde (Beaufort and Comté melted and mixed with the local Crépy wine, with an added splash of Cognac thrown in for good measure—c’est délicieux).
Often referred to as the Venice of France (un peu exagéré), it is actually a mix of several cultures, namely French, Swiss and Italian. The Swiss are represented in those adorable gingerbreadesque chalets—flower boxes and all, chocolate, wheels of cheese, raclette, tartiflettes, and all things cheesy that Switzerland does so well. The Italians make their mark with authentic wood oven pizza, mercifully light on the cheese, and the glut of mouthwatering gelato shops peppering the historic heart of town.
Annecy is one of the most popular cities in France both with the French and with les étrangers, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend coming and staying here to get a way from it all. The throngs of tourists come to admire the beauty as well as be admired, and the traffic can be a nightmare. Early mornings are definitely the best and I imagine the off-season is delightful. That said, I would recommend staying just outside of Annecy (at any time of the year), and making day trips in, exploring the countryside, and hoping over to Geneva for a quick visit. We stayed in a gîte in one of the many hamlets that dot the landscape. Our gîte was amazing and cozy and starlit. In the middle of the woods, with quaint mountain roads to cycle through, a hot tub, a barbecue, and a huge yard for Tazzie to feel at home. Ça fait du bien par où ça passe !
Ça fait du bien par où ça passe ! Just what the doctor ordered!
les étrangers: the foreigners
un gîte: a holiday home available for rent, fully furnished and equipped for self-catering, usually less expensive than other lodging
raclette: a Swiss dish consisting of cheese melted over a fire and then scraped onto bread or boiled potatoes; also the cheese used in this dish
tartiflettes: a creamy and comforting oven bake of potatoes, cream and bacon – originating from France’s Haute-Savoie region
un peu exagéré: a little bit exaggerated